Mirae Asset may lose $5 mn to email fraud on aircraft finance

  • 2020-03-27

Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd. is likely to lose $5 million related to its aircraft financing deal after its Hong Kong-based employee transferred the money to a fake account that the company later realized was set up by a hacking group, according to the company and regulatory sources.

The wire transfer was made after the employee received an invoice earlier this month in an email from the same address and in the same format that the company had used for the transaction worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mirae Asset had not questioned the authenticity of the email until it was reminded of the last tranche payment by the aircraft leasing company.

No further details were provided about the deal, under which Mirae has agreed to lease airplanes back to an Asia-based airline.

The South Korean brokerage house has funded the transaction with bank loans and investment from domestic pension funds and other institutional investors.

Financial authorities believe a hacking group had penetrated the computer network of Mirae Asset’s Hong Kong subsidiary for at least several months, monitoring the deal progress and sent the invoice around the time the deal was closing.

Hong Kong police is investigating the incident, with the hacking group yet to be identified.

Mirae Asset will decide whether to book the $5 million as a loss upon completion of the police investigation.

That is equivalent to about one-tenth of the Hong Kong unit’s earnings in 2019, compared with its equity capital of 2.4 trillion won.

Domestic news outlet Edaily said that Mirae Asset will raise an additional $5 million to close the aircraft financing deal as planned.

The Hong Kong unit is so-called a control tower of the parent Mirae Asset Financial Group’s global investments, spearheading the $5.8 billion acquisition of 15 US luxury hotels from China’s Anbang Insurance Group in 2019.

In December 2019, Mirae Asset signed a $450 million financing deal to buy three Boeing 777-300ER leased by China Airlines.

The three aircraft were owned by ICBC Leasing and GE Capital Aviation Services on lease agreement with China Airlines.

By Hyung Joo Oh

ohj@hankyung.com

<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>